[Advaita-l] BrahmaGYAna and jIvanmukti - 5 (Other References)

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Thu Feb 8 21:08:03 CST 2007

I'll explain the problems with the quotes provided in a little more
detail in this posting. Unless there are **unambiguous** quotes from
SSS showing that he comprehended the distinction between steady and
unsteady AtmaGYAna in his writings, there's no point in further
discussion in this thread.

--- Annapureddy Siddhartha Reddy <annapureddy at gmail.com> wrote:


> > Below, I will provide some quotes which show that SSS did
> recognize
> > > differences in establishment of AtmaGYAna. There is no
> difference
> > > in the
> > > different grades of brahmaniShThas in that there would be no
> >
> > I've not used the term "BrahmaniShTha" in any of my postings so
> far.
> > I'm not sure if you take it to refer to the GYAnimAtra or the
> > sthitapraGYa, or a BrahmaGYAnI (who can be either).
> Apologies, I used "brahmaniShTha" in the sense of a brahmaGYAni,
> and the
> expression "different grades" to refer to GYAnimAtra at one end of
> the
> spectrum to sthitapraGYa at the other end.
> > rebirth for any
> > > of them. But from an empirical viewpoint, they still need to
> > > counteract the
> > > pUrva vAsanas, and some amount of discipline is required for
> that
> > > (which is
> > > exactly what svAmI vidyAraNya's point is in JMV).
> > >
> >
> > If I understand you correctly, that is exactly what the JMV does
> > say.
> I must stress that using terminology like "empirical viewpoint" and
> > "transcendental viewpoint" like black-and-white is not the
> correct
> > way to interpret the JMV. The most problematic in such a
> > black-and-white view would be the GYAnimAtra, who knows the
> Brahman
> > in the transcendental level, and is yet troubled by vAsanAs at
> the
> > empirical level, and therefore makes EFFORT to be rid of vAsanAs.
> Could you tell me how this paraphrasing of yours is different from
> what I
> said above?

Since you've equated your "BrahmaniShTha" with "BrahmaGYAnI" (who can
be either a GYAnimAtra or a sthitapraGYa), your sentence reads as:

"But from an empirical viewpoint, they (i.e. BrahmaGYAnIs) still need
to counteract the pUrva vAsanAs, and some amount of discipline is
required for that (which is exactly what svAmI vidyAraNya's point is
in JMV)"

The above statement is ambiguous/incorrect for two reasons:

1) Note that the above sentence is NOT true for BrahmaGYAnIs in
general, because it is not true for at least one kind of BrahmaGYAnI
-- the sthitapraGYa.

2) Besides, the part about "from an empirical viewpoint" seems like a
third-person's view of the BrahmaGYAnI, not the BrahmaGYAnI's own

> (I am confused by your "this is exactly what the JMV
> does NOT
> intend", as I do not see that I wrote anything vastly different.)
> The only
> assertion I made (that could be contentious) was that a GYAnimAtra
> also does
> not have any rebirth (and this was my deduction, so I could be
> wrong).
> Please let me know if this is not true.
> Whereas the sthitapraGYa knows Brahman and remains completely
> > EFFORTLESS (i.e. does not require any "discipline" as you've
> stated
> > above).
> Yes. I agree with this. The confusion probably resulted from my
> using
> "different grades" instead of GYAnimAtra and  sthitapraGYa.
> > The quotes are all from "The Method of Vedanta", A.J.Alston's
> > > translation of
> > > SSS's "vEdAnta prakriya pratyAbhiGYA".
> > >
> > > Pg. 144, ch. 3, sec. 55, last paragraph of SSS notes
> > > On the other hand inner and outer control and the rest, along
> with
> > > absence
> > > of pride and other qualities (prescribed at Gita XIII.7), are
> mere
> > > auxiliaries, and there is no set limit to their observation.
> They
> > > are
> > > intended for carrying knowledge to perfection, and whatever has
> > > that for its
> > > purpose is itself an aspect of being established in knowledge
> > > (GYAna
> > > niShTha). Hence, when we speak of resort to the means of
> knowledge
> > > coming to
> > > an end when knowledge is acquired, it does not mean that these
> > > auxiliaries
> > > also come to an end.
> > >
> >
> > The above is irrelevant in the GYAnimAtra-sthitapraGYa
> distinction.
> >
> > The context that SSS mentions the above is the case of
> sthitapraGYa,
> > where the "auxiliaries" mentioned are the natural characteristics
> of
> > the sthitapraGYa. This is not a reference to effort made by the
> > GYAnimAtra.
> If only a sthitapraGYa is being referred to, then what does the
> expression
> "carrying knowledge to perfection" mean in the above quote?
> Knowledge is
> discrete, i.e., you either have knowledge or not. There are no
> grades in
> knowledge. Thus, the above could not have referred to knowledge,
> but to
> establishment in knowledge.

It is very easy to interpret the statement as referring to the state
of the sthitapraGYa.

The reason: the mention of "when knowledge is acquired" implies that
the person considered is a BrahmaGYAnI. Once the knowledge has been
acquired and the person is a BrahmaGYAnI, the "auxiliaries" are
"absence of pride" etc. which are the same as (or at the very least,
similar to) the qualifications that are known as

There is no problem in saying that the auxiliaries --
sAdhana-chatushhTaya -- remain in the state of the sthitapraGYa as
natural characteristics. I've already quoted this in the discussion
of the sthitapraGYa in the JMV:

"  'All that led to the realization are to be brought about by 
  effort; they are the means. To the sthitapraGYa, they remain
  as natural characteristics."

Therefore, what SSS could be saying is that the pre-requisites for
AtmaGYAna don't really "come to end" after steady Self-realization --
rather, they find their consummation in the Self.

The point I'm making is:

The quote provided is ambiguous. It DOES NOT NECESSARILY IMPLY the
state of the GYAnimAtra, for it can ALSO easily be interpreted to be
in line with the state of the sthitapraGYa. This quote therefore does
not prove that SSS comprehended the difference between steady and
unsteady AtmaGYAna.

> Also, the context of the above quote is a seeker and not a
> sthitapraGYa. The
> title of the chapter is "The limits of spiritual practice" in which
> the
> different practices for a seeker of brahmaGYAna are discussed. In
> fact, the
> last sentence in the above quote "when we speak of resort to the
> means of
> knowledge coming to an end when knowledge is acquired, it does not
> mean that
> these auxiliaries also come to an end" show -- (a) that the seeker
> is being
> considered here, (b) even after acquiring knowledge, the inner and
> outer
> discipline need to be carried out for "carrying (the acquired)
> knowledge to
> perfection".
> > Pg. 159, ch. 3, sec. 59, quote 15
> > > SSS refers to BSB 4.1.15
> > >
> >
> > The BSB 4.1.15 does not speak of the GYAnimAtra, but of the
> > sthitapraGYa. Even Sankara himself says so, even using the term
> > "sthitapraGYa" in his commentary.
> I do not have the shAN^kara bhAShya in Sanskrit on this quote. But
> I am
> surprised that even for a sthitapraGYa (according to the definition
> of
> sthitapraGYa by SV), "wrong knowledge, though cancelled, may
> continue for a
> time through the force of impressions (saMskAra)".

I don't want to get into this topic now, but suffice it to say that
since Sankara himself uses the term "sthitapraGYa", it only refers to
this person.

Again, the reference provided is ambiguous.

> > Pg. 160, ch.3, sec. 59, quote 16
> > > SSS refers to Br.Bh. 1.4.10
> > >
> >
> > This again is a reference to the state of the sthitapraGYa and
> not
> > the GYAnimAtra. As SSS says in page 156:
> >
> > "It is simply a matter of knowing one's own true nature through
> the
> > removal of the metaphysical ignorance that obscures it...There is
> no
> > break in the knowledge of the Self of such a knower, even when he
> > conforms to the erroneous vision of the world, for he is merely
> > conforming to what he knows to be an error."
> Are you saying that this is not the case with a GYAnimAtra? Even
> according
> to SV, GYAnimAtra  has samyak.h aparOkSha brahmaGYAna, right?  So,
> how did
> you conclude that the above refers to a sthitapraGYa, and not a
> GYAnimAtra.

I'm saying that both the GYAnimAtra as well as the sthitapraGYa have
saMyak-aparoksha-BrahmaGYAna. Re-read your objection above to
understand that by your own contention, the quote CAN be interpreted
to be the sthitapraGYa.

This quote is also ambiguous, because it can be interpreted to be the
state of the sthitapraGYa.

> The very title of the section refers to a "firm establishment in
> the
> > Self".
> I am not sure how you concluded that the GYanimAtra is not being
> referred to
> here.
> > Pg. 145, ch. 3, sec. 55, quote 10:
> > > The duty laid down for his order (**wandering monk**) is in
> fact
> > > establishment in (firm adherence to) a steadfast absorption in
> the
> > > Absolute,
> > > fortified by inner and outer control and other such
> disciplines.
> > >
> >
> > I don't see how the distinction between steady and unsteady
> > BrahmaGYAna follows from the above.
> If the AtmaGYana were to be steady, then there would be no need for
> further
> effort in any practices (for attaining vAsanakShaya and manOnAsha).
> But the
> very references to discipline even after attaining brahmaGYAna show
> that it
> is intended for firm establishment in brahma.

Again, I must emphasize that I'm looking for an UNAMBIGUOUS QUOTE
from SSS to the effect that he comprehended the difference between a
GYAnimAtra and a sthitapraGYa, not a quote that can be interpreted

For example, the person whose state is quoted above could easily be
interpreted in two ways:

1) The sthitapraGYa. "Fortified by disciplines" could mean that the
final state of the person (i.e. sthitapraGYa) has BEEN OBTAINED with
effort, not that effort is being made after realization.

2) As that of a seeker of BrahmavidyA, not a Brahmavit. The
"steadfast absorption in the absolute" CAN mean Atma-vichAra,
otherwise the term "duty" CANNOT be applied to all wandering monks in
general, which is what the quote is trying to do.

> I am deleting the discussion on another quote. Maybe we can focus
> on the
> above for now.
> > ---------------------
> > >
> > > And as regards the paJNchapAdika, you reasoning was
> essentially,
> > > H.H.
> > > supports JMV which supports paJNchapAdika, and since H.H. is
> > > jIvanmukta,
> > > paJNchapAdika is authoritative (by the above chain of
> "supports").
> > >
> >
> > Not so.
> >
> > Re-read my posting:
> >
> > "As I've pointed out, the VivekachUDAmaNi actually follows the
> > quite closely, and H.H. even quotes the JMV as an authority in
> his
> > commentary."
> >
> > I'm basing the relationship between the VivekachUDAmaNi and the
> > on the following primary fact-
> >
> > Primary Fact: "VivekachUDAmaNi follows the JMV closely (i.e.
> > doctrinally)."
> Is it the case that you consider vivEkachUDAmaNi as authoritative,
> and the
> fact that it follows JMV makes JMV authoritative? Traditionally,
> vivEkachUDAmaNi is ascribed to shaN^kara, while SSS ascribes it to
> shaN^karAnanda. If you feel vivEkachUDAmaNi makes JMV authoritative
> (presumably by borrowing from it), that would make vivEkachUDAmaNi
> a later
> work (in other words, not of shaN^kara's pen). And SSS made the
> point that
> much earlier works like the paJNchapAdika are not in line with
> shaN^kara,
> then why should we even consider the vivEkachUDAmaNi (a much later
> work) to
> be in line with shaN^kara.

Since you've brought up this alternate topic here, I will mention in
a later posting of mine about the authorship of the vivekachUDAmaNi,
who I believe was not Sankara.

> > > The point is that jIvanmukti is no guarantee of shrOtriyatva,
> and
> > > AFAIK, SSS
> > > claims that prior advaitins have erred in their interpretation
> of
> > > the vEda
> > > (and not necessarily that they were not jIvanmuktas).
> >
> > This is all very interesting -- are you saying that advaitins
> like
> > VidyaraNya were NOT shrotriyas? Do you have any proof for such a
> tall
> > claim?
> At the outset, let me make it clear that "I" am not saying
> anything. I have
> been trying to understand the differences between the tradition and
> SSS. And
> SSS did say that prior advaitins and advaitin works (starting from
> the
> paJNchapAdika) deviated from shaN^kara. And this means that they
> misinterpreted the prasthAnatrayi. And hence, according to SSS,
> they could
> not be shrOtriyas (where the term is taken to mean correct
> knowledge of the
> interpretation of scripture).
> > In other
> > > words, again
> > > AFAIK, SSS makes the case that mUlAvidyA is a deux ex machina
> for a
> > > consistent interpretation of the vEda. And even assuming that
> > > did
> > > consider H.H. a jIvanmukta (I am not sure if he does/does not),
> > > unless H.H.
> > > explicitly affirmed such a mUlAvidyA in his own perception
> (clearly
> > > not the
> > > normal sensory perception, but probably some kind of meditative
> > > perception),
> > > SSS's objections still stand.
> > >
> >
> > The objections, IMHO, are valid if and only if SSS gives
> conclusive
> > proof that the doctrine of the pa~nchapAdikA CANNOT IN ANY WAY be
> > interpreted as being in line with Sankara's works.
> By the very words "CANNOT IN ANY WAY", there is a connotation that,
> potentially, there is a gap in shaN^kara's thought and the later
> works.

Have you read my posting on the reconciliation between the JMV and
Sankara's works? The main point there was that the JMV does not have
to parrot everything that Sankara says in order to be in line with
Sankara's works. Rather, the JMV is taking one aspect of Sankara's
works -- viz. sAdhana-chatushhTaya -- and expanding on it and its
relationship to BrahmavidyA and mukti. It is unreasonable to expect
that new ways of explanation or new terminology will not appear in
works such as the JMV for this very reason.

It is not like there is a "gap" (again, I'm not sure what you mean by
this term, but I'm going to assume it to denote a deviation) between
Sankara and VidyAraNya, but only that the latter goes deeper into a
certain aspect of the former's work without contradicting it. For
example, VidyAraNya considers the "akR^itopAsti", which is among the
most important terms in the JMV, but it does not appear in Sankara's
works. True, it is possible to understand Sankara's works without
this term, but introducing this term clarifies so many things in the
JMV that would've been impossible to do so without it.

Why shouldn't this be the same case with the pa~nchapAdikA as well?
Perhaps "mUlAvidyA" was required to understand the pa~nchapAdikA,
just as "akR^itopAsti" is required to understand the JMV. This need
not imply that there was any kind of deviation of the pa~nchapAdikA
from Sankara's works, just as there is no deviation of the JMV from
Sankara's works.

> In
> other words, while the later works do not contradict shaN^kara in
> letter,
> there is a good chance that they are not faithful in spirit.

Now you're talking about "good chances" without a solid argument to
stand on.

> To
> give an
> example, consider the advaitin and the dvaitin interpretations of
> the
> prasthAnatrayi. I am not sure if "the doctrine of dvaita vEdAnta
> cannot in
> any way be interpreted as being in line with the prasthAnatrayi".
> Even otherwise, take the example of mUlAvidyA. If no one has any
> experience
> of the existence of such an entity, one might as well take another
> theory
> that does not resort to mUlAvidyA. In other words, the rule of
> Occam's
> razor.
> As I've pointed
> > out, the JMV *appears* to contradict Sanakra's works, but is
> actually
> > perfectly in line not only with Sankara's works, but all of
> shAstra.
> > To dismiss the JMV merely because it propounds a difference
> between
> > AtmaGYAna and mukti is quite meaningless,
> I am not sure if SSS disagrees with the above distinction. AFAIK,
> the
> differences lie mainly in the bhAva or abhAva nature of avidyA.
> just as it is meaningless
> > to dismiss the pa~nchapAdikA because it speaks of such a thing as
> > mulAvidyA.
> As I mentioned above, it's Occam's razor. Why talk of something
> when there
> is no need to?  (Please note that I am not very familiar with the
> importance
> of mUlAvidyA in the tradition. Right now, I do not see the use of
> it. So, my
> question is also to know more about it, rather than just dismissing
> it).
> > To paraphrase the argument, mUlAvidyA is either perceptible or
> not.
> > > If not
> > > perceptible, it's at best a theoretical tool which might as
> well be
> > > done
> > > away with (per SSS).
> >
> > I'd like to know what is meant by "might as well be done away
> with".
> A consistent theory of advaita vEdAnta which does not make an
> appeal to
> mUlAvidyA. This is what I mean.
> I can argue that curly-brackets {} can be "done away with" in
> > Mathematics, because it is perfectly possible to prove all
> theorems
> > using only round brackets () and square brackets [].
> >
> > But does my contention invalidate the proof of a mathematician
> that
> > utilizes curly brackets?
> Note that this is just syntactic sugaring (i.e., human convention).
> If a
> machine were to be given this task, one would eliminate all
> needless things,
> and get it down to the bare minimum. So, the question is, "is
> mUlAvidyA
> simply syntactic sugaring? Or is there a fundamental importance
> attached to
> it in the tradition?"

That is a question that needs to be answered BEFORE dismissing the

Of course, as I've pointed out, the above objections with
"akR^itopAsti" being substituted for "mUlAvidyA" in the context of
the JMV can be made, but those objections are easily refuted.

> praNAm.h.
> A.Siddhartha.


> > If it's perceptible (through meditation
> > > presumably),
> > > then that would seriously challenge SSS's claims. Could someone
> > > maybe point
> > > out if any jIvanmukta made any such claims about the
> perceptibility
> > > of
> > > mUlAvidyA?
> >
> > I don't think I'm in any position to take up a discussion on the
> > above topic now.
> >
> > As far as I'm concerned, there is still not an iota of evidence
> to
> > show that SSS did indeed comprehend the difference between steady
> and
> > unsteady AtmaGYAna.
> > Thanks.
> > >
> > > A.Siddhartha.
> >
> >
> > Regards,
> > Kartik
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